Keystone XL opponents cheer court ruling, say pipeline unlikely to be built
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday cheered a federal judge’s ruling that has further delayed construction of the project.
A coalition, including Bold Nebraska, the Sierra Club, indigenous groups, landowners and others, held a media conference call Friday to discuss the ruling.
Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska, which has been a leader of pipeline opposition in the state, called the ruling a win for farmers, ranchers and other groups affected by the pipeline, as well as “a significant blow to the Trump administration.”
Kleeb and Doug Hayes of the Sierra Club both said the ruling is another development that suggests the pipeline will never get built, with Kleeb calling it “another nail in the coffin” of the project.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Thursday ruled work on the pipeline must halt until the U.S. State Department and TransCanada have reassessed the pipeline’s environmental impact.
Morris ruled that enough has changed since the pipeline was first approved that new information should be considered, including a drop in oil prices, changes in the pipeline route and the subsequent building of the Alberta Clipper pipeline. The new information may indicate Keystone is no longer needed, he said in his ruling.
Former President Barack Obama rejected a permit for the $8 billion pipeline in November 2015, but President Donald Trump reversed that decision and issued a permit in March 2017.
But the last federal environmental impact statement was done in 2014.
Among other factors Morris said the federal government needs to examine are the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and updated modeling of potential oil spills.
Hayes of the Sierra Club said that work will take six to 12 months at a minimum, which stops the project “dead in its tracks.”
The ruling can be appealed, and President Trump suggested that it will be.
Before leaving for Paris on Friday morning, he called Morris’ ruling a “disgrace” and said it was a political move, according to CNN.
The case will “end up in the 9th Circuit, as usual,” Trump said, referring to the federal appeals court that covers Montana, the state where Morris is based.
There also is an ongoing lawsuit in Nebraska over the Public Service Commission’s decision to approve an alternate route through the state that TransCanada did not apply for. That case is in front of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
TransCanada did not respond to a request for comment from the Journal Star, but in a statement given to CNN, the company said it remains committed to building the pipeline.